- Associated Press - Friday, January 29, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Animal rights activists are asking officials why 11 more black bears were killed in Kentucky last year than the 35-bear quota that had been set by state wildlife officials.

The state had a record black bear hunt in 2015, killing 46 black bears, The Kentucky Enquirer (http://cin.ci/1SdpLtS ) reported.

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Wildlife Division Director Steve Beam said his office sets “extremely conservative” quotas, with the quota not being a strict limit.

The Humane Society of the United States, though, said that before deciding on a quota, the state should take a more thorough approach to tracking how many bears are in Kentucky.

“If Kentucky stubbornly insists on hunting its tiny bear population, it must move to a more sophisticated system where the population is carefully monitored and where game management units close as soon as quotas are met,” Pam Rogers, former Kentucky state director for the Humane Society wrote in a letter to state officials.

Beam said his office believes there are roughly 700 bears living in Kentucky, not 350, the number quoted by the Humane Society. Beam’s office estimates the species’ state population using past research studies as a baseline and then factoring in other indicators such as bear sightings and road kills.

Kentucky hasn’t been scientifically tracking its bear population for a few years, but Beam said the state is working to improve its future assessments and just hired a new bear biologist for the state, John Hast.

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Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com

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